Internships: Learning Versus Earning (and channelling Bjork)

My first fashion internship was for legendary 90s London label Red or Dead. I was paid in kind with this cropped army green mohair number that I wear to this day. I channel Bjork’s Debut phase dancing on the back of that flat bed truck…

Anyway, it never fails to receive compliments. It’s the payment that keeps on paying. (However there are others that might say, I interned for Red or Dead and all I got was this lousy sweater…)

Internships are under increasing scrutiny nowadays. I decided to examine the issue for FashionUnited… Read on, good people!

Red or Dead Army Green

Red or Dead and Army Green

Big Time Sensuality

Big Time Sensuality

I sit before a group of bachelors students from Kent State University’s fashion program who have come to the school’s New York City Studio to complete a semester. The experience allows them to be taught by different faculty, many of whom work in the city’s fashion industry, and to explore other ways of developing a collection that enriches the already-solid preparation they have received back home. The studio is located in Manhattan’s Garment District, so they’re right in the heart of where it all happens. Yet, perhaps as important as the teaching they will receive is the opportunity they’ll have to pick up prime internships––placements they could never have in northeastern Ohio. Today’s group includes interns for Anna Sui, Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Alice & Olivia, Milly, among others. And while placements are certainly set up by the school, most of the group say they have organized their own, targeting companies they really wanted to work for… Please continue reading

And then the Olsen twins got sued!

Who could ever sue those cute little Olsens?


  1. Interesting article. I would have thrown myself at a chance of being an intern at a company I wanted to work for! Young people these days 😆

  2. dolls house blog

    Great article! What is your thoughts on ‘older interns’? When I was in school we didn’t do any fashion related things but I would love to do a career change and go into the fashion industry but it is just so hard to get any experience. I am a teacher so would love to work for free in my summers off. Any advice would be great!

  3. Interesting that you ask as I have been reading a lot about the abundance of older interns nowadays. People changing careers, updating their skills, trying to get started again after losing a job etc. I think it’s quite common and encouraged by careers advisors. Also I don’t imagine many companies would turn down offers of free workers! You should put some feelers out to the companies located where you are…

  4. I’ve worked part-time for a lot of companies/ organisations in the Arts and Heritage sectors who would invent paid-jobs for really good interns. They didn’t always pay well at first, but getting a foot in the door is so important when you’re starting out isn’t it. As an intern myself I was often given freebies/ perks as well, which I saw as being more-than sufficient reward! Jx

  5. I feel that the Interns who don’t get paid seem to treasure the experience more because they know in advance they are there just for the learning/experience and not a wage. Perhaps, the wage earners lose their focus and feel used harder because of the payment. Of course, experiencing an unpaid internship can make Life hard if you don’t have another source of income…

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